Peter McCarthy Electric Co., Inc. - Specializing in Older Buildings in Chicago
Adventures in Old House Wiring....

"It's a small world, after all...."

No pic here today. Just an entertaining observation on how technology has made our world so very small in 2013.

I have a client who lives in Woodlawn, around 62nd St.  She is a professional who travels widely. I got a call from her the other night, telling me the heat and the kitchen outlets were out in her condo. When her number came up on my phone I figured it was some sort of emergency, since it was late at night. Routine so far, except that she was calling from Hong Kong. Her roommate in Woodlawn had contacted her, and she then contacted me.

Since it was a heat outage, I put that in the  "very important right now" category. I described how it may be a HVAC issue (she has a modern gas-fired furnace in the unit) or it may be an electrical issue. The dead kitchen outlets point to the later but one can never be sure. I told here the next day was booked solid, but I would push something around on the schedule to get over there in the morning. I just could not pinpoint the time. I said let her roommate know I will be there sometime between 9:00 and 11:30.  He had to stay at the condo to let me in. That was the best I could do. (I had an Edison inspection on my 1200 Amp service job already scheduled for that morning, and I had to be there when they came. Edison only gives you a general AM or PM appointment time. So I told her let him know I'll be there as soon as I can, he needs to wait there for me.

I was able to get there at about 11:10 AM  My client had emailed him and set it up with him the night before, so I fully expected him to be there and welcoming me with open arms, in that I was going to possibly restore his heat. However, that was not the case. He was not there. I buzzed the buzzer several times. No answer. So I texted her, in Hong Kong. The electrons shot off that front door step at 62nd and Dorchester, flew all the way to Hong Kong. She then called him, and the phone in the apartment rang, but he did not pick up. The electrons flew from Hong Kong to the apartment about 15 feet from where I was standing. She got no reply. She emailed him as as well, shooting more electrons from Hong Kong back to Hyde Park and Woodlawn. She then texted me back letting me know she was so sorry, he was not there, she did not know where he was, ect.  In the meantime I was able to push all the buzzers, just to verify they worked, and an upstairs neighbor took pity on me and let me in after I gave him the whole story. He took a chance that I was not a scam artist since I had all the correct names and had all my tools. I took the liberty of banging VERY LOUDLY on the condo door, just to awaken a drowsy roommate if he was there. Alas, no dice.

I was pretty irritated. Not furiously indignant and self-righteous, (I can't believe it! I rearrange my schedule on short notice to "rescue" this guy and he stiffs me!) as I may have been in earlier years. I have mellowed and have also come to believe things going "smoothly' is far from the norm, it's almost the exception. She phoned me up a little while later, again apologizing and saying she would let him know this was unacceptable. I was kind and understanding, but told her I was going to have to charge a full service call fee for this lost time. She agreed, of course. Again, in earlier years, I would have "done her a favor" and eaten that cost myself. I very rarely insist on the full service call fee where circumstances conspire to make it so that I can render no service. In most cases I am entitled to it, but it really kind of engenders hard feelings. No way to Make Friends and Influence People. But in this case it just struck me as a tad too egregious to let slide. So I'll send the bill.

It really kind of amazes the boy in me that those electrons can shoot from the front door to Hong Kong and back up to the apartment 15 feet away in a matter of moments. I feel like the horse and buggy driver being blown away by the blinding speed of 14 miles per hour when he first laid eyes on the Model A Ford.
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